Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy


Public Good
Sent: Sunday 31 August 2014 12.00 a.m.

Media release

An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy is a contradiction in terms

The State Services Commission sent NZ’s Open Government Action Plan to the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat on 31 July. The countries involved in the OGP since its inception - from the UK and US to Indonesia and Brazil - have signed up to meaningful and aspirational goals: better oversight, greater transparency and opportunities to involve the public in decision making.

This a great initiative for New Zealand then? On the one hand it is: NZ is committed to signing up. However without barely a nod to openness or the involvement of the public such an initiative would suggest the Government pre-selected the initiatives that were to be used as the broad themes for NZ’s plan and in the two meetings with the community and voluntary sector that did discuss the plan, participants were presented with these as ‘faits accomplis’.

The government’s proposed themes are:
• Better Public Services
• ICT Strategy and Action Plan which aims to improve digital access to government services
• The recommendations of the Transparency International 2013 assessment of New Zealand.

Meeting invitees gave a strong message that an “Open Government Partnership Action Plan” needed to start from widespread consultation, openness and non-partisan ideas, not a pre-determined, pro-National Party agenda. That was back in April. Subsequently the Cabinet has signed off the plan and sent it to OGP international secretariat for ratification. Aside from the broad themes no-one outside of government has a clue about what the Action Plan contains.

So, apart from the secrecy about the OGP Action Plan is there anything really wrong with the Government’s approach?

I think there is.

The OGP action plan is about open government. It beggars belief that its content is a closely held secret. The OGP’s international secretariat also demands community involvement in the development of OGP Action Plans. New Zealand’s Action Plan is almost guaranteed to fail on this count. This is surely embarrassing for New Zealand’s usual good reputation for openness and good governance.

Next, two of the proposed themes are highly partisan being taken from National Party programmes that are related to the Government’s privatisation and cost-cutting agenda.

Better Public Services was never consulted on and its DNA it assumes that privatising out will deliver better public services than public servants can. It presupposes that complex public services like social welfare and housing are essentially similar to private services like using a credit card or making an airline booking and can be delivered effectively under contract.

The second element of the plan is the Government’s Information and Communications Technology Strategy and Action Plan. However, the ICT Action Plan’s main purpose is to deliver savings of $100m/year to Government, which it aims to do by moving to ‘digital by default’ services. It does this without consideration for people who cannot use the standardised digital model because of poverty, disability, distance or language and literacy skills. This is important. Almost a quarter of a million New Zealand households have no internet connection.

The third strand of the proposed action plan – the implementation of some of Transparency International’s 2013 recommendations - is more promising. The recommendations are high-quality, evidence- based, non-partisan proposals arrived at after an open process and wide consultation. They include sorting out our political party funding, securing our strong corruption-free reputation in changing circumstances, and pointing out that our media, with its narrow owner-base and funding problems, is a bar to a healthy democracy. Even here the details proposed by government are nonetheless still a) secret and b) predetermined by Government and c) there are no guarantees that the government and community priorities would be aligned.

Given the use of urgency, low levels of meaningful consultation and increased level of concern expressed by NGOs about their advocacy role and more recently the Dirty politics revelations the Government must realise it is on shaky ground regarding openness and transparency. It has not been open with us about many things and so it’s hard to see how having NZ join up to the Open Government Partnership will be seen as anything more than lipservice. Even the most Pollyanna-ish amongst us might wonder quite what would change with an OGP Action Plan that has been devised by government with minimal public input and signed off in secret.

References
Better Public Services Results programme showing the preference for ‘best sourcing’ or business style services and privatised delivery.
ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017 showing savings as the main objective.
Transparency International NZ National Integrity System Assessment
Transparency International Recommendations
The State Services Commission's Open government partnership web page
The International Open Government Partnership (OGP) website.
State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman’s 13 November 2013 press release
IGPS lecture and resources about the open government partnership
Stomping all over ‘grass-roots’ advocacy and activism (presentation of 2013 research results) Sandra Grey, Charles Sedgwick and Jared Commerer
Fears, constraints and contracts by Sandra Grey and Charles Sedgwick

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Scoop Covid-19 Coverage: Auckland To Remain At Level 3 Restrictions, Rest Of NZ At 2 For 12 More Days


Auckland will remain at level three restrictions and the rest of the country at level two for 12 more days Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.
She said this would be reviewed on August 21, but there was no indication yet anywhere was required to go to level four restrictions.
Ardern said a good start had been made in stamping out the infections associated with the Auckland family cluster and it appeared it had been picked up early. There was still no certainty about where the virus had come from, but it appeared to be new to New Zealand and not a sign the virus was dormant.... More>>

 

Government: Plan To Tackle Problem Plastics

Following the success of the phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags, the Government now has plans to phase out more single-use and problem plastics to reduce waste and protect the environment announced Associate Minister for the Environment ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The New Lockdowns, Leadership And Lebanon

As Melbourne has shown, the webs of urban life overlap so extensively that community transmission can be very hard to trace, let alone control. Each of the family members in the South Auckland family at the centre of the current outbreak will have had ... More>>


ALSO:

National: Emma Mellow As Auckland Central Candidate

Tonight the National Party has selected Emma Mellow to stand in the Auckland Central electorate for the 2020 General Election. Emma Mellow replaces retiring MP Nikki Kaye who first won the seat from Labour in 2008. Emma leads a team of communications ... More>>

ALSO:

Travel: Update On New Zealand And The Cook Islands Bubble

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna have welcomed the completion of phase one in the establishment of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Island. More>>

Election 2020: Labour Launch

E ngā mana e ngā reo Ngāti whātua ngā mana whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau, e tika te kōrero Ehara taku toa he toa (taki tahi) he toa (taki tini) No rēira tātou e huihui mai nei, ka ‘Hoake tonu tātou’ Thank you for that welcome. And thank ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Political Twins, And On Labour Extending Its Wage Subsidy Scheme

A quick quiz for the weekend. Which political party currently represented in Parliament issued a press release yesterday that contained these stirring passages: “[We have] long supported a free trade and free movement area between Canada, Australia, New ... More>>

ALSO:

Democracy 2.0: NextElection Partners With Scoop For Exciting Democracy Tech

Joint Press Release: NextElection, Scoop.co.nz, ScoopCitizen NextElection , a technology platform empowering democracy and Government accountability, and Scoop Independent News have partnered to strengthen citizen participation in the 2020 New Zealand General ... More>>

ALSO:


Covid-19: Poll On Management Approval

New Zealanders’ overall trust in the Ministry of Health and Government to manage the COVID-19 pandemic is at 82%, down from 91% during April. Overall distrust that the Ministry and Government will manage it in ways which best protect themselves More>>

Election 2020: National Releases 2020 Party List

National’s 2020 Party List is a strong mix of experience coming up through our Caucus, and new and exciting talent joining our team from communities across New Zealand, Party President Peter Goodfellow says. “The National Party is incredibly ... More>>

Horizon Research Limited: How Judith Collins Stopped The Bleeding

Horizon Research includes questions on voting from time to time in its surveys – for both forthcoming referenda and general elections. More>>

Your Vote 2020: Bringing Election Coverage To Viewers Across TVNZ Channels And Platforms

As New Zealand gets ready to head to the ballot box this September, 1 NEWS is bringing voters comprehensive coverage and analysis of this year’s General Election. TVNZ’s coverage will draw on the depth of experience held across the 1 NEWS team, says Graeme ... More>>

Economy: 30% Believe Households Worse Off, 298,000 Expect To Lose Jobs

64% of New Zealanders feel the economic position of their households is the same or better than a year ago – and 30% think it is worse or much worse, while 298,000 think they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months. Households’ perceptions ... More>>

State Services Commission: Findings Of Investigation Into COVID-19 Active Cases Privacy Breach

Deputy State Services Commissioner Helene Quilter has today announced the findings of an investigation into a breach of privacy regarding sensitive personal information. The investigation looked into who or what caused the disclosure of the information, ... More>>

International Security: New Zealand Suspends Extradition Treaty With Hong Kong

The New Zealand Government has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and made a number of other changes in light of China’s decision to pass a national security law for Hong Kong, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels